Motor function and safety after allogeneic cord blood and cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stromal cells in cerebral palsy: An open-label, randomized trial.



To evaluate safety and motor function after treatment with allogeneic umbilical cord blood (AlloCB) or umbilical cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (hCT-MSC) in children with cerebral palsy (CP).


Ninety-one children (52 males, 39 females; median age 3 years 7 months [range 2-5 years]) with CP due to hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, stroke, or periventricular leukomalacia were randomized to three arms: (1) the AlloCB group received 10 × 107 AlloCB total nucleated cells (TNC) per kilogram at baseline (n = 31); (2) the hCT-MSC group received 2 × 106 hCT-MSC at baseline, 3 months, and 6 months (n = 28); (3) the natural history control group received 10 × 107 AlloCB TNC per kilogram at 12 months (n = 31). Motor function was assessed with the Gross Motor Function Measure-66 (GMFM-66) and Peabody Developmental Motor Scale, Second Edition.


Infusions (n = 143) were well tolerated, with eight infusion reactions (three in the AlloCB group, five in hCT-MSC) and no other safety concerns. At 12 months, the mean differences (95% confidence intervals [CI]) between actual and expected changes in GMFM-66 score were AlloCB 5.8 points (3.4-8.2), hCT-MSC 4.3 (2.2-6.4), and natural history 3.1 (1.4-5.0). In exploratory, post hoc analysis, the mean GMFM-66 score (95% CI) of the hCT-MSC group was 1.4 points higher than natural history (-1.1 to 4.0; p = 0.27), and the AlloCB group was 3.3 points higher than natural history (0.59-5.93; p = 0.02) after adjustment for baseline Gross Motor Function Classification System level, GMFM-66 score, and etiology.


High-dose AlloCB is a potential cell therapy for CP and should be further tested in a randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled trial.






Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Sun, Jessica M, Laura E Case, Colleen McLaughlin, Alicia Burgess, Natalie Skergan, Sydney Crane, Joan M Jasien, Mohamad A Mikati, et al. (2022). Motor function and safety after allogeneic cord blood and cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stromal cells in cerebral palsy: An open-label, randomized trial. Developmental medicine and child neurology. 10.1111/dmcn.15325 Retrieved from

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Jessica Muller Sun

Associate Professor of Pediatrics

Laura Elizabeth Case

Associate Professor in Orthopaedic Surgery

Laura E Case, PT, DPT, MS, PhD, PCS, C/NDT is a board-certified clinical specialist in pediatric physical therapy. She has dedicated her career to teaching, research in childhood-onset neuromusculoskeletal disorders, and to the lifelong treatment of people with childhood-onset neurological and neuromuscular disorders such as cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, spinal muscular atrophy, Pompe disease, myelodysplasia, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and brachial plexus injury.

She has been involved in numerous clinical trials for the treatment of disorders including Pompe disease and other metabolic disorders, cerebral palsy, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and spinal muscular atrophy. Dr. Case has participated in the development of international guidelines for the management of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Pompe disease, and other glycogen storage diseases.

She teaches and consults internationally, has worked on a number of Center for Disease Control (CDC) task forces, has served on numerous committees and task forces in the pediatric section of APTA, served two terms as NC State Representative to the APTA Section on Pediatrics, and is a member of the North American Pompe Registry Board of Advisors.

Colleen A McLaughlin

Clinical Associate in the School of Nursing

Joan Mary Jasien

Associate Professor of Pediatrics

Dr. Joan Mary Jasien completed a med-peds residency and neurodevelopmental neurology and became boarded in internal medicine, pediatrics, neurology and is board eligible for neurodevelopment. She is the co-director of the Multidisciplinary Spina Bifida and Cerebral Palsy Related Conditions Clinics and cares for children and adults with neurodevelopmental disabilities at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC, USA. Her research focus is on neurological aging in Spina Bifida and other neurodevelopmental disabilities.


Mohamad Abdul Mikati

Wilburt C. Davison Distinguished Professor

Mohamad A.  Mikati M.D., is the Wilburt C. Davison Professor of Pediatrics, Professor of Neurobiology, and Chief of the Division of Pediatric Neurology. Dr. Mikati’s clinical research has centered on characterization and therapy of pediatric epilepsy and neurology syndromes, describing several new pediatric neurological entities with two carrying his name (POSSUM syndromes # 3708 and 4468), developing novel therapeutic strategies for epilepsy and related disorders particularly Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood, and applying cutting edge genetic and Magnetic Resonance Imaging techniques to drug resistant pediatric epilepsy.  In the laboratory he has elucidated mechanisms of seizure related neuronal injury, particularly those related to the ceramide pathway, and demonstrated neuroprotective effects of several agents including erythropoietin. Most recently he has concentrated his laboratory research on the pathophysiology of ATP1A3 dysfunction in the brain as model for epilepsy and of Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood. He has more than 290 peer reviewed publications, 400 abstracts 41 chapters one book and two booklets. He also has more than 10,497 citations in the literature with an h-index of 58 and an i-10index of 190. Dr. Mikati has written chapters on epilepsy and related disorders in the major textbooks of Pediatrics and Pediatric Neurology including Swaiman’s Pediatric Neurology and Nelson’s Pediatrics. Before joining Duke in 2008 he had completed his M.D. and Pediatric training at the American University of Beirut, his Neurology at the Massachusetts General Hospital, his Neurophysiology at Boston Children’s Hospital and had been on the Faculty at Harvard as Director of Research in the Epilepsy Program at Boston Children’s Hospital and then as Professor and Chairman, Department of Pediatrics, Founder and Director of the Adult and Pediatric Epilepsy Program at the American University of Beirut. Dr. Mikati has had several international leadership roles including being President of the Union of the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Pediatric Societies, on the Standing Committee of the International Pediatric Association (IPA), Chair of the Strategic Advisory Group on Early Childhood Development of the IPA, Officer of the International Child Neurology Association, Consultant to UNICEF, WHO, and the American Board of Pediatrics. He was selected to organize and chair the American Epilepsy Society's Merritt-Putnam Symposium and was one of only two Pediatric Neurologists, initially chosen worldwide, on the WHO advisory committee for the International Classification of Disease. He has received several national and international honors including, among others, Merritt Putnam American Epilepsy Society Fellowship Award, Harvard Community Health Plan Peer recognition Award, Debs Research Award, Hamdan Award for contributions to Medicine, Hans Zellweger Award for contributions to Pediatric Neurology, Patient Choice Award and the Michael Frank Award for research and lifetime contributions to the field of Pediatric Neurology.


Jesse David Troy

Associate Professor of Biostatistics & Bioinformatics

I am the Associate Director of Graduate Studies for the Master of Biostatistics program. I am also an instructor in the Clinical Research Training Program. I work on research studies in cancer therapeutics and palliative care at the Duke Cancer Institute.


Joanne Kurtzberg

Jerome S. Harris Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics

Dr. Kurtzberg is an internationally renowned expert in pediatric hematology/oncology, pediatric blood and marrow transplantation, umbilical cord blood banking and transplantation, and novel applications of cord blood and birthing tissues in the emerging fields of cellular therapies and regenerative medicine.   Dr. Kurtzberg serves as the Director of the Marcus Center for Cellular Cures (MC3), Director of the Pediatric Transplant and Cellular Therapy Program, Director of the Carolinas Cord Blood Bank, and Co-Director of the Stem Cell Transplant Laboratory at Duke University.  The Carolinas Cord Blood Bank is an FDA licensed public cord blood bank distributing unrelated cord blood units for donors for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) through the CW Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program.  The Robertson GMP Cell Manufacturing Laboratory supports manufacturing of RETHYMIC (BLA, Enzyvant, 2021), allogeneic cord tissue derived and bone marrow derived mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), and DUOC, a microglial/macrophage cell derived from cord blood.

Dr. Kurtzberg’s research in MC3 focuses on translational studies from bench to bedside, seeking to develop transformative clinical therapies using cells, tissues, molecules, genes, and biomaterials to treat diseases and injuries that currently lack effective treatments. Recent areas of investigation in MC3 include clinical trials investigating the safety and efficacy of autologous and allogeneic cord blood in children with neonatal brain injury – hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), cerebral palsy (CP), and autism. Clinical trials testing allogeneic cord blood are also being conducted in adults with acute ischemic stroke. Clinical trials optimizing manufacturing and testing the safety and efficacy of cord tissue MSCs in children with autism, CP and HIE and adults with COVID-lung disease are underway. DUOC, given intrathecally, is under study in children with leukodystrophies and adults with primary progressive multiple sclerosis.

In the past, Dr. Kurtzberg has developed novel chemotherapeutic drugs for acute leukemias, assays enumerating ALDH bright cells to predict cord blood unit potency, methods of cord blood expansion, potency assays for targeted cell and tissue based therapies. Dr. Kurtzberg currently holds several INDs for investigational clinical trials from the FDA.  She has also trained numerous medical students, residents, clinical and post-doctoral fellows over the course of her career.

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